Russ on Reading’s catalog on Common Core State Standards — important reading

January 20, 2014

Russ Walsh gives strong voice to support from public education in a variety of ways — his old blog, Russ on Reading, carried a good deal of serious thought about the Common Core curricula recently, especially as it relates to reading.

Education professor and consultant Russ Walsh

Education professor and consultant Russ Walsh

Bookmark his site, and pay attention to what he says. This is a key issue in your state, in your schools, and in your legislature, today. If it’s not in your newspaper, you’re being steamrolled.

A Compilation of Common Core Concerns

The Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts has come under increasing scrutiny. Here is a collection of my posts from the past year on the Common Core and some of the concerns I have about the new standards and literacy instruction.

A note only because it’s necessary to keep reminding people in Texas:  CSCOPE is/was not Common Core.  Texas chose not to join in the Common Core Coalition years ago.


Insta-Millard, education edition: Light on the problems of the Common Core State Standards

December 22, 2013

As if anyone were looking and needed light.  The heat is intense, and the light seems superfluous.

First, Jack Russell Weinstein, a philosopher in North Dakota, of all places, seems to me to have accurately found the issue in Common Core discussions, better than almost anyone else (including Diane Ravitch, at least for succinctness), in a short post at his blog PQED from which this is excerpted:

Jack Russell Weinstein presented the keynote a...

Jack Russell Weinstein presented the keynote address at the 2007 UND Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philosophically then, the question is how to negotiate federal and local power in education. We are also concerned with what counts as expertise. If we combine the two, we are faced with a third issue: who negotiates all of this? When the National Governors’ Association created the new Common Core—the standards that many American school kids will now be evaluated against—they relied more heavily on business than on teachers. They asked Microsoft and the standardized testing companies what they thought, and minimized the input of those who actually teach. They then assumed a purpose that suited their needs: they concluded that students should graduate from high school career and college ready.

Now, these are good goals. Our students should be ready to move on to the next stage of life. But where is the love of literature, the ability to communicate needs and political ideas, the capacity to respect both difference and personal experience at the same time? Where is the understanding of the importance of math, science, and history, and the celebration of being alive, in the world, surrounded by art, music, comedy, and neighbors? Leaving these things out of schooling is a bit like teaching your child to kick a soccer ball while convincing her that she doesn’t deserve the chance. It’s like putting her on a soccer team only to teach her to despise the game. It’s like sending your kids to school while telling them that education and teachers have little value. Surely, the first goal of education, like the first goal of soccer, should be to show why it’s worth doing in the first place.

Looking for a general link to Ravitch’s blog, I stumbled on this post, “Why Teachers Don’t Like Common Core”:

Why do teachers resist the mandates of Common Core?

Dr. Diane Ravitch discussed education reform's problems in Dallas, in April 2010.  Photo by Ed Darrell

Dr. Diane Ravitch discussed education reform’s problems in Dallas, in April 2010. Photo by Ed Darrell

We suggest money spent on the development of these major unresearched and unfunded mandates to implement CCSS be used to alleviate the lack of resources — unequal staffing, support services, and restoration of school libraries, music and art classes, as well as enrichment programs in these schools. Research has shown that this is the way to help even the playing field for the districts in poverty.

Teachers are mind-molders. When they embrace, create and implement meaningful change with their students, they are helping every child reach his or her potential. Teachers embrace constructive, researched change that result in better, meaningful learning. Resistance to the Common Core standards should be understood in this context.

Rabid CSCOPE critics in Texas, dedicated to the tasks of destroying teaching while failing to recognize what they do, won’t understand.  First off they fail to recognize, as Dr. Weinstein explicitly does, that Common Core standards do not come from the federal government, botching the history of education and federal involvement from the get go.  More important, few discussions start out with seeking the common ground we might find by asking the question, what is the purpose of this education system we work on?

Do any of us fully understand?

More:


Uh-oh. Common Core curriculum and “absolute values” in small town Idaho

September 21, 2013

This story caught my eye, partly because it’s from the town where I was born in southern Idaho, partly because it deals with education issues, specifically the Common Core State Standards on the ground — er, in the classroom — and partly because of the way it could be spun into silly and inaccurate controversy by radical right-wing people, who have spun similar stories worse.

In Burley, Idaho, junior high schools are teaching values.  Not just any values, but “absolute values.”  Just wait until the “values coalition” wackoes hear!  (Somebody should alert Eric Bolling at Fox News!)

What?  Well, yeah, it’s in math class. Still, absolute  values?  Do the parents know?

(Wish I could embed the video from KMVT television.)

Burley Teacher talks about Common Core
By Brittany Cooper

Story Created: Sep 8, 2013 at 9:50 PM MDT

Story Updated: Sep 8, 2013 at 11:57 PM MDT

Burley, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Classes are underway in the Cassia Joint School District. So what do teachers think about the Common Core Standards?

Math teacher Cindy Tolman enjoys Common Core because teachers can focus on specific areas. She tells us she can use more real life examples and show illustrations of how to do the problems.

In her seventh grade class, she is teaching about absolute values.

“And instead of just saying the absolute value of any number is positive, now we’re teaching them it’s the distance from zero and we actually got a string out and put it on a number line and we compared that the absolute value of a –3 is the same as the absolute of 3 because that’s the distance from zero on a number line,” adds Tolman who teaches at Burley Junior High School.

Tolman says sometimes what parents don’t understand is the Common Core builds a stronger foundation and as early as the kindergarten level, youngsters are receiving a more hands–on education than perhaps before.

Will anyone notice the teaching of absolute values in Burley, Idaho?  If they notice, will they avoid embarrassing themselves with a demonstration of their ignorance of mathematics?

More, and related information:

Junior High School in Burley, Idaho

Junior High School in Burley, Idaho; the building I presume the class in the story is taught. This is not the great gray, gothic building that existed when I lived there. Photo linked from Google Maps


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